Last year, the Department deployed the British Army to Malawi for four months to run counter-poaching training in support of the Foreign Secretary’s aim to combat the illegal wildlife trade. It is a role that plays to the strengths of our young commanders and soldiers, who are experts in fieldcraft, tactics and intelligence fusion. It is a testament to the quality of their training of the rangers that arrests in Liwonde, Malawi, have increased by 50%.
With our ivory trade ban and our summit this autumn, what an opportunity we have not only to assist the work in Africa, but to give some of our armed forces real experience in training and, potentially, the use of drones. Could we not expand this training opportunity alongside this autumn’s summit?
After the success of the pilot project, which has been funded for three years, I am delighted to report that we will indeed be doing exactly that and will be expanding the programme to two more wildlife parks in Malawi. That sits exactly within the priorities of Her Majesty’s Government’s Africa strategy, which runs across three Departments.
Has the Minister also had discussions with the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, where huge numbers of elephants have been lost over the past 20 years, particularly in the Selous game reserve? If he has not had such discussions, perhaps they could be offered to the United Republic of Tanzania.
Indeed, poaching is responsible for the deaths of approximately 20,000 elephants every year, which is why I am delighted that the pilot project seems to have made such a positive impact over the past year. As I have already mentioned, we will be looking to expand the project as part of the Government’s Africa strategy.